We are the MOST “connected” society AND we are the MOST Lonely society! Yes, we celebrate the “illusion” that we do not feel our loneliness because we have apparatus which pretends to keep us “in touch” with “friends.” Many of us are addicted, YES addicted, to our smart phones and tablets with the expectation that our FB posts, or our Tweets, or texting, or our Instagram offerings are showing the WORLD, our world, that we are fully participating and really proud and joyful about our lives even if it looks like our breakfast or our cute pet postings. Yet, loneliness exists. You can see loneliness in the desperate behaviors which surround us.
Example. I came at 8:15 AM to stand in line at REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) for the semi annual “Garage sale.” The store opened at 9:00 AM and I was 40 or 50 in line with 45 minutes to opening. These are hardcore outdoor enthusiasts trying to get a good deal so they can go backpacking, camping, hiking, cycling, kayaking, or whatever. ALL 40 or 50 of these line standers was ON THEIR SMART PHONES! So, I asked the people with me in the lengthening line, “was it mandatory to be on my smart phone as I a waited the store opening?” Pretty much YES. So I pulled out my smart phone so I would not look stupid or upset the others in line, I say sarcastically. I did manage to engage the people around me in conversation and we were clearly old friends by the time we pushed into the store. Because we chatted, I could talk with them to find out if they had found the specific gear that they had arrived so early to acquire. THIS IS NOT UNIQUE. Look around at the line in the expresso place or bus stop or market, or bank or ….
Many of us have lost touch with our ability to have deeper conversations and emotional interactions with real, live, responding, human friends or family. Yes, I have seen, and so have you, people sitting in the same room, even across the table from each other, and TEXTING the person in the room. What is that about? That is about addiction to technology and false idols of communication. The illusion that some how we are not suffering from addiction and loneliness. Two dimensional text messages are NOT a substitute for a hug or looking into the eyes of someone who needs support or encouragement. It does not include gestures, body language, or tone of voice. Texting is NOT the way wisdom and experience can be shared in any meaningful way. Yes, superficial sharing is SAFE and easy and quick but it is NOT a deeply felt human interaction. The kind of interaction that truly supports us.
There have been studies of children raised in Eastern European orphanages where babies and young children were left for hours without human contact and touching. Many of these children grew up with severe mental, emotional, and even physical disabilities. My point is that people need human interaction and nurturing AND technology has NOT found the way to reach out and really touch you like face to face interactions are supposed to offer. AND, if you do not see this effect upon our human culture just look around. People can not speak with clarity or depth about important relationship issues. We seem to require very graphic, adrenaline producing movies, TV, or gaming to get into our very limited attention spans. Teachers are fighting for their classrooms attention and must adjust to the lowest common denominator of the lowest attention span in the room.
People FEEL LONELY. We are NOT connected. We do not honor the wisdom and experience which is shut away in our retirement “homes,” senior housing, and “full care nursing facilities kept separate from our Youth Oriented culture. WE are lonely both Older folks and younger people. There is even discussion regarding a new psychological/emotional symptom in our psychological codes referred to as “Loneliness Syndrome.”
Fear is driving the technology addiction. We do not want to feel left out of this mass behavior. We do not want to be odd or “unpopular.” We do not want to stand up and actually speak because that attracts a spot light of attention and that can feel threatening. “someone may make “fun” of me.” It is easier to be “anonymous” in a snarky text or FB comment. Advertising insists that for our “young” lives to be successful, we must add the latest technology or “app.” We have not evolved so far in the past 35 years of the “Information Age” that the tribal behavior of sharing stories, and maybe wisdom, around the campfire, as we have done for thousands of years, is now SO obsolete and primitive that it does not work any more. Technology has changed the way we live but the need of looking into someone’s eyes as they share their story has not!
Let’s try some silliness and humor.
A dead guy is in line to see St Peter at the “Pearly Gates.” He has his cellphone with him. He walks up to the Gate Keeper and says “Can I take this with me? I am waiting for a Text. BTW (By the way) Pete, what is the WiFi password for heaven?” Or, “Is there a GPS for the “Higher Realms”???”
Though we find ourselves worshipping our: individualism, independence, separation, this can lead to emotional isolation and emotional/spiritual loneliness. Our souls are connected and yet we do not have time to remember this because our technology keeps interrupting our meditation. Yes, we are all connected but the internet still has a ways to evolve before it grasps the deepest levels of sharing, listening, and witnessing the wisdom we can find in each other.
Take a risk! Look a friend or a stranger in the eye and with sincerity ask them who they are. Thank them for being the soul which you have bumped into in the warm dryer called life! We are all in this together, whether you know this or not.
If you want to have this conversation with people who have committed to supporting other people AND their stories, consider our Masters of the Journey Community. You are a blessing and the experiences you have had in this life should be shared (for you and for the witnesses.)